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Understanding The Basics
Common Equine Ailments
Silicon for strong bones
Australasia tends to put a lot of emphasis on the racing of 2 year olds, with multi million dollar races such as The Blue Diamond Stakes and The Golden Slipper. A survey of veterinarians and trainers estimated that shin soreness affected 80% of two-year-olds in Australia (Buckingham and Jeffcott, 1990) and 70% in the United States (Norwood, 1978). Even though exact figures are not known it is estimated that millions of dollars are lost due to lost training time and career ending injuries.
Strong bones are essential if a horse is to perform successfully and still remain sound. Methods for enhancing bone formation are continually being investigated in the hopes of increasing skeletal integrity and durability. Increased bone metabolism can occur for a variety of reasons: growth/development, bone damage, hormonal stimulation (endogenous factors) and diet (exogenous factors). Increasing exercise, for example, can alter bone metabolism and physiology. However, excessive exercise can be detrimental to cartilage tissue. Therefore, nutritionally supplemental means (exogenous stimulator) of enhancing bone formation appears to be an alternative way to maximize bone strength (Neilsen, 2000).
A good example of the strength of the bone matrix is that of fiberglass. Fibreglass is made of glass fibres and epoxy glue. The individual glass fibres are rigid and strong, but they are also brittle. The epoxy component is flexible, but weak. The composite, however, is both rigid and strong.
When people think of the composition of bone they immediately think of calcium and phosphorous, which represents approximately 35% and 17% of the bone matrix respectively. Bone is actually made from approximately 30% organic material (mostly collagen), 45% minerals and 25% water (Lawrence and Fowler, 1997)
Vitamin D and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, sodium, chloride and silicon also play an important role in the formation of bone by altering the structural components of bone. These vitamin and mineral levels should be addressed when formulating diets for young horses.
Silicon (Si) is the second most abundant element of the earths crust (Carlisle, 1972). The problem we are faced with is that not all silicon is available to the horse. Sodium Zeolite is a hydrated aluminosilicate compound that breaks down into monosilicic acid in the gut and serves as a bio available silicon source.
Silicon has been reported to have a role in bone physiology and metabolism, by increasing osteoblastic (bone building) activity, (Brady et al, 1991) and decreasing osteoclastic (bone demineralization) activity. In vitro, silica acid increased Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGF-b), which is produced in bone and platelet cells (Keeting et al, 1992). This may be important in fracture and wound healing, as an increase in TGF-b causes an increase in cell proliferation (Lind et al, 1995). If bio available silicon can activate TGF-b in vitro, an enhanced repair mechanism may result.
In a trilogy of trials conducted at Texas A & M, Frey et al, Reynolds et al and Neilsen et al conducted research to determine whether bio available silicon was of benefit to young performance horses.
Frey et al found that horses may not receive an optimum amount of bio-available silicon at the appropriate time for maximizing the rate of bone mineralization. Reynolds et al found that the supplementation of bio available silicon had no deleterious effects on horse's health.
Of significant note was the third trial conducted by Neilsen et al which investigated Training distance to failure in young race horses fed with bio available silicon. Neilsen found that with an appropriate amount of supplementation horses in training were worked greater distances (82,731m) before their first failure when compared to the un-supplemented control group (45,566m). In Neilsen's masters thesis on Training Distance to Failure and Density of the Third Metacarpal, Neilsen showed that 61.5% of horses suffered metacarpal injuries without supplementation, compared to 22.2% for horses supplemented with bio available silicon.
Neilsen also found that race times were reduced in horses supplemented with Bio available Silicon (22.798 seconds) compared to the control group (23.27) when raced over 366m.
The Neilsen study, which was a companion research project to the Reynolds, et al. study, sumarised that feeding bio available silicon may help prevent athletic injury to the horse.
For more information of feeding young performance horses and the benefits of feeding Bio-Available Silicon please contact HY GAIN FEEDS on 1300 HYGAIN (494246) or email us.
Brady, M. C. et al. 1991. Zeolite A stimulates proliferation and protein synthesis in human osteoblast-like cells and the osteosarcoma cell line MG 63. J. Bone Min. Res. 6:S139.
Buckingham S.H.W. and Jeffcott L.B. (1990). Shin soreness: a survey of Thoroughbred trainers and racetrack veterinarians. Aust. Equine Vet., 8, 148-153.
Carlisle, E. M. 1970. Silicon: A possible factor in bone calcification. Science. 167:279-280.
Frey, K. S. et al. 1992. Plasma silicon and radiographic bone density in weanling Quarter Horses fed sodium zeolite A. J. Equine Vet. Sci. 12(5):291-295.
Keeting, P.E. et al. 1992. Zeolite A increases proliferation, differentiation, and transforming growth factor-b production in normal human adult osteoblast-like cells in vitro. J. Bone Min. Res. 7:1281-1289.
Lawrence, T. L. J., and V. R. Fowler. 1997. Growth of Farm Animals. CAB International, New York, NY.
Lind, M., B. et al. 1995. Chemotaxis of human osteoblasts. APMIS. 103:140-146
Nielsen, B. D. et al. 1993. Training distance to failure in young racing quarter horses fed sodium zeolite A. J. Equine Vet. Sci. 13(10):562-567.
Norwood G.L. 1978. The bucked-shin complex in Thoroughbreds. In Proceedings. 24th Annu. Conv. Am. Assoc. Equine Pract.; 319-336.
Reynolds J.A. et al. 1993. Physiological responses to training and racing in two year old Quarter Horses, JEVS: 13(10)543.
For more information please contact HY GAIN FEEDS on 1300 HYGAIN (494246) or email us.